ICKES, HAROLD LECLAIR (15 March 1874, Frankstown Township, Blair County, PA–3 February 1952, Washington, DC).
Secretary of the interior from 1933 to 1946, Harold L. Ickes oversaw a department with diverse responsibilities for the nation’s natural resources, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the administration of Alaska, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. He was also head of the Public Works Administration from 1933 until its termination in 1941, overseeing the spending of over $6 billion on a great array of public projects, including schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, dams, and housing. He earned a reputation as a diligent, outspoken, honest, and efficient administrator.
Ickes was one of the officials to whom Eleanor Roosevelt referred part of the huge volume of correspondence* she received about depressionera needs for assistance. She also corresponded with him about government programs in which she was particularly interested. He and ER were both strong supporters of liberal causes. Ickes had earned a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1907 and been active in progressive reform politics in Illinois. In 1932 he headed an independent Republican committee supporting Franklin D. Roosevelt* for president. He brought to his positions in the New Deal* a long-standing interest in improving conditions for Native Americans* and protecting the rights of minorities.
Shortly after his appointment, Ickes desegregated public facilities in his department and hired an African American, Robert Weaver, as one of his official advisers on the economic status of African Americans. When, in 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to permit Marian Anderson,* an inspiring black contralto, to perform in Constitution Hall, Ickes offered the Lincoln Memorial as a substitute place for her concert. During World War II* he campaigned for the release of interned Japanese Americans.* Nevertheless, Ickes and ER had